Peninsula: is it a worthy Train to Busan sequel?

peninsula train to busan festive walk cinema iloilo

South Korean movie poster for Peninsula (2020)

  • Action-packed commentary on human greed
  • Festive Walk Cinema reopens with safety precautions for a fun movie experience

Peninsula is the sequel to the 2016 Korean movie Train to Busan, though it is a stand-alone film and you don’t have to know about the first one to watch this.

Train to Busan was one of the biggest films of 2016. This story of a father and daughter trying to escape from a zombie outbreak has touched millions of viewers all over the world. The movie was not just about people trying to escape zombies – it was also a commentary on human greed, and the dilemma of saving yourself versus sacrificing for the greater good.

Due to the new normal, cinemas all over the country were closed since March. As a movie fan, I missed the cinema! Watching a movie at home can be fun, but being in a theater is a more immersive experience.

We were invited to watch Peninsula in the Festive Walk Cinema last August 1. Moviegoers were required to wear masks, disinfect their hands and feet, fill out a health declaration form, and have their temperature checked before entering. The seating arrangement was one seat apart to ensure physical distancing, and only 50 percent of the seats can be occupied. The attendants wore appropriate protective gear such as masks, face shields, and gloves.

Peninsula synopsis

Peninsula is set four years after the events of the first Train to Busan movie, but it deals with a different set of characters. Marine Captain Jung-seok (Gang Dong-won) is bringing his sister and their family to a ship leaving Korea. In a tragic turn of events, the ship gets infected and he escapes with his brother-in-law Chul-min to Hong Kong where refugees face discrimination. A gang is trying to retrieve an abandoned food truck with 20 million dollars and asks the Korean refugees to get it for them for a reward.

They return to a desolate and abandoned Korea where zombies still roam and the survivors have become lawless. Jung-seok and Chul-min get separated. On the run, Jung-seok meets two girls who save his life. He meets their mother, Min-Jung (Lee Jung-hyun), and the girls’ senile grandfather. Together, they plan to escape the Korean Peninsula. Meanwhile, Chul-min is captured in a former military unit that has since gone rogue.

Peninsula movie review

This movie is set in the same place though it doesn’t tell us what happened to the remaining characters from the first one. It is kind of sad because I was curious about what happened to them. However, this movie is interesting because it takes us out of the train and tells us how the outbreak has affected the larger world. I found no train in this movie.

Peninsula has the same emotional pull as the first movie. It also deals with family in the same way. However, what made the first movie unique among other popular zombie movies was its setting of a train where most of the story happens. In Peninsula, there was more action, guns, and car chase scenes (more like a typical zombie apocalypse movie). It reminded me more of Mad Max, World War Z, and Zombieland compared to the first Train to Busan film.

I also found the premise quite unbelievable. In the first movie, you keep watching to see if they will ever arrive in Busan safely. They were just passengers unaware of a zombie outbreak. So, somewhere in Korea, 20 million dollars is just hiding away in some truck? The viewers aren’t given the context as to why they know about the money.

As for the actors, Lee Jung-hyun shined as the mother who will do anything to protect her kids and get them out of the infected country. Chul-min (Kim Do-yoon) was a bit of comic relief, but he plays an important role in Jung-seok’s development as a character.

I feel like Peninsula ended in a more optimistic note. Though it was tragic and many characters also died (just like in the first film), the main character eventually learned to also think of others and saved their lives.

Like its predecessor, Peninsula also shows that sometimes, it’s not the zombies or a virus that’s the enemy but human greed and selfishness.

Movie rating: 3/5 stars

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